Posted by Linda W. Braun
This week the Pew Internet in American Life Project came out with a report on the impact of technology on social networks. While the report isn’t specifically about teens, there are several topics within the document that relate to the way teens use technology and what they will expect from technology when they become adults.
The report describes two types of networks/ties. They are:
Core Ties: These are the people in Americans’ social networks with whom they have very close relationships — the people to whom Americans turn to discuss important matters, with whom they are in frequent contact, or from whom they seek help. This approach captures three key dimensions of relationship strength — emotional intimacy, contact, and the availability of social network capital.
Significant Ties: These are the people outside that ring of “core ties” in Americans’ social networks, who are somewhat closely connected. They are the ones with whom Americans to a lesser extent discuss important matters, are in less frequent contact, and are less apt to seek help. They may do some or all of these things, but to a lesser extent. Nevertheless, although significant ties are weaker than core ties, they are more than acquaintances, and they can become important players at times as people access their networks to get help or advice.
As I read this I thought about how teens use websites like My Space, along with blogs, to build and support their social networks. Do teens think about the differences within the social networks they build? I’m not sure they could articulate differences, but I bet they use online tools in different ways in order to create core and significant ties.